R.F. (Bob) Baker

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By Jack Hill on the occasion of the presentation of the Outstanding Service Award to Bob Baker, 1978

My task of enumerating Bob's achievement is both difficult and easy at the same time. He is so well-known to all members of our Association for his efficiency and cheery personality from the mid 1960s to the late 1970s that we all took him for granted. Having done such an excellent job for the Association, there seems to have been no criticism of his activities, so he was not newsworthy. But his constant, meticulous devotion to the interests of the Association during long inhuman hours gave us the luxury of a smoothly flowing organization which we accepted as a matter of course.

Bob was born in Brandon, Manitoba, lived in British Columbia for a time, worked with Mr. R.G. Snowling, DLS on the Columbia River project. He also spent some time surveying in the Yukon, was a SAIT graduate and worked with Northern Affairs and Natural Resources in Banff. He joined the staff of the Surveys Branch, Department of Highways in 1955, was articled to Mr. T.E. Rippon, ALS and Mr. A. Tonsoo, ALS. He was firstly manager of plan examination, then assistant Director of Surveys, Land Survey Section, Surveys & Mapping Branch, Alberta Transportation. He has provided excellent guidance and instruction to five articled students who are now Alberta Land Surveyors.

He took over the job as secretary-treasurer and registrar of the Alberta Land Surveyors' Association in 1967 and followed in the footsteps of Mr. J.H. Holloway, ALS who had been with us for many years, and seemed irreplaceable. However, Bob soon put the lie to this trend of thought.

The writer has been intimately aware of Bob's Association activities since 1972 and marvelled at the way in which he has handled the complex administration of an organization which exploded in membership and at the same time permitted him only very minimal secretarial assistance. Concurrently he carried on the duties of Secretary-Treasurer and Registrar of The Alberta Society of Survey Technicians and Technologists and the secretary-treasurer of the J.H. Holloway Foundation. He became the Association's first appointed member of the Universities Co-ordinating Council in 1975 and at this time inherited two filing cabinets full of personal histories of all articled pupils and past and present ALSA members.

He did a tremendous, back-breaking job in re-organizing the filing system and giving us a solid representation and voice on the Co-ordinating Council which we sorely lacked at that point in time. He was the Association's permanent representative to the Canadian Council of Land Surveyors from its inception. During the same period of time, he was chairman or a member of eight different committees appointed by Council. If one bears in mind that all this huge volume of work would normally occupy at least two men full-time, one gets some idea of his achievement when we consider that all these duties were carried out in a spare-time capacity, whereby he put in a full, solid day's work with the Department of Highways, attended two geodesy courses (which he passed) edited and set up all data for ALS News, was a friend and counsellor to all members of the Association and articled students.

He is, no doubt, the only person who knows everyone of us, members and students alike, by our names. Very embarrassingly we have to admit, to our shame, he received completely inadequate remuneration for these excessive demands, but we never heard a whimper of complaint on this account. Bob always seemed to be around to help anyone in any shape or form and materially assisted our younger members and students to become acclimatized. At the same time, he was a pillar of stability and knowledge in Council deliberations, had all the acts, facts and by-laws at his finger tips at annual meetings, prompted new born presidents and always presented a cheerful countenance to the world at large.

Considering all this work would normally take about 30 hours a day, he, nevertheless, felt compelled to join three community organizations, a golf club, the Canadian Institute of Surveying, The Edmonton Scottish Society, and last but by no means least, Clan MacNaughton Pipe Band which in itself would be a more than sufficient extra-curricular activity for us mortals. He spent a tremendous amount of time practicing and touring the province and the beautiful, anguishing, wailing strains of his pipes were to be heard at the refreshing hour of 3 a.m. each morning of our annual conventions. In his musical activities, he was dearly disappointed in not being able to tour Scotland in 1976, but once again he stoically accepted the situation without any outward show of sorrow.

The above outline will, in some small way, serve to put on record Bob's achievements for us. If the Association decides to extend this award to him, it will merely be a pale token of our heart-felt appreciation and cannot hope to compensate him for his sterling, unflagging, profound and eminently human efforts.

On the occasion of his nomination for President, 1992

  • Born at Brandon, Manitoba in (1934)
  • Completed High School in Fernie, BC (1953)
  • Received diploma in surveying and drafting from SAIT (1955)
  • Articled to T.E. Rippon, ALS (1956-1957); A. Tonsoo, ALS (1957-1961)
  • Received ALS commission (1961)
  • Member of the Canadian Institute of Surveying and Mapping
  • Served on various committees of the ALSA including Legislation, Publications, Practice, and Special Committee on the Survey System to mention a few Served as Secretary-Treasurer of the ALSA (1967-1977 and 1991-1992)
  • Member of the Acacia Lodge #11, and the Clan MacNaughton Pipe Band
  • Worked part time on construction surveys and land surveys with various levels of the federal government (1951-1955)
  • Experience in land surveys and office management with the Director of Surveys Office (1955-1990)
  • Employed by Landmarks Consultants in Whitecourt (1990-1991)
  • Employed by Brown Okamura in Lethbridge (1996-)
  • Enjoys horses, fishing, pipe bands